58 James Dean Quotes from the Iconic American Actor

James Dean became a symbol of the restless youth of the 1950s with his role in “Rebel Without a Cause.”

Moving between Indiana and California he faced early hardship with his mother’s death and was raised by relatives.

After some acting roles in Hollywood he moved to New York and gained notice on Broadway.

James Dean Quotes

His performance in “East of Eden” led to an Academy Award nomination.

Sadly Dean’s rising career ended abruptly when he died in a car crash at 24 shortly after filming “Rebel Without a Cause” and “Giant.”

His death sparked a cult following and he remains an iconic figure in film history.

I have made a handpicked list of quotes by James Dean in this article.

Best James Dean Quotes


To me, the only success, the only greatness for man, is in immortality. ~ James Dean.


An actor should be judged by his performance only. ~ James Dean.


I can’t let in the light. It will destroy my performance like light destroys film. ~ James Dean.


Forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably. ~ James Dean.


I wouldn’t like me, if I had to be around me. ~ James Dean.


Racing is the only time I feel whole. ~ James Dean.

To me, acting is the most logical way for people’s neuroses to manifest themselves, in this great need we all have to express ourselves. ~ James Dean.


The gratification comes in the doing, not in the results. ~ James Dean.

If a picture is psychologically motivated, if there is truth in the relationship in it, then I think that picture will do good. I firmly believe that rebel without a cause is such a picture. ~ James Dean.

If a choice is in order – I’d rather have people hiss than yawn. ~ James Dean.


You’re tearing me apart! ~ James Dean.

I have sacrificed a physical bond, for a metaphysical relationship. I am the ultimate idealistic lover. ~ James Dean.

I want to be a Texan 24 hours a day. ~ James Dean.


How can you measure acting in inches? ~ James Dean.

If a man can bridge the gap between life and death, if he can live on after he’s dead, then maybe he was a great man. ~ James Dean.

Famous James Dean Quotes

You can do ‘Hamlet’ while performing cartwheels… as long as the audience sees your eyes – you can make the performance real. ~ James Dean.


Film only works in the dark. Tear it all open and let in the light and you kill it. ~ James Dean.

The only thing I’ve seen so far are just raccoons running all over. ~ James Dean.

James Dean was the damaged but beautiful soul of our time. ~ James Dean.

I don’t have to explain anything to anybody. ~ James Dean.

An actual right is something that governments need merely to secure, not to implement. ~ James Dean.


I am trying to find the courage to be tender in my life. ~ James Dean.

I think the prime reason for existence, for living in this world is discovery. ~ James Dean.

Top James Dean Quotes

The cinema is a very truthful medium because the camera doesn’t let you get away with anything. ~ James Dean.


Trust and belief are two prime considerations. You must not allow yourself to be opinionated. ~ James Dean.

An actor must interpret life, and in order to do so must be willing to accept all the experiences life has to offer. In fact, he must seek out more of life than life puts at his feet. ~ James Dean.

Reality doesn’t have any preconceived ideas. You’ve got to learn how to smoke the cigarette, not act smoking the cigarette. You need to drink the drink, not act drinking the drink. You’ve got to do things and not show them. ~ James Dean.

Love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that makes you smile. ~ James Dean.


You try to be yourself, do only what you’ve always done and like to do, and right away, you’re tagged as an oddball. ~ James Dean.

I think there is only one form of greatness for man. If a man can bridge the gap between life and death. I mean, if he can live on after he has died, then maybe he was a great man. To me the only success, the only greatness, is immortality. ~ James Dean.

At times there seems to be a million ideas worth painting. However, there are days when it’s a challenge to pull any idea together. On these days I go to my studio, leaf through an art history book, and tell myself that I am part of this great tradition. ~ James Dean.

Popular James Dean Quotes

You could call T. Rex the James Dean of dinosaurs: it lived fast and died young. ~ James Dean.


To my way of thinking, an actor’s course is set even before he’s out of the cradle. ~ James Dean.

When an actor plays a scene exactly the way a director orders, it isn’t acting. It’s following instructions. Anyone with the physical qualifications can do that.


My fun days are over. ~ James Dean.

Without that space, an actor is no more than an unthinking robot with a chest-full of push-buttons. ~ James Dean.

I’m a serious-minded and intense little devil – terribly gauche and so tense that I don’t see how people can stay in the same room as me. I know I couldn’t tolerate myself. ~ James Dean.

The only way to make a scene realistic is to do it the way you know it would really happen. ~ James Dean.

Being an actor is the loneliest thing in the world. You are all alone with your concentration and imagination, and that’s all you have. ~ James Dean.


If I can keep this up and nothing interferes with my progress, one of these days I might be able to contribute something to the world. ~ James Dean.

If you’re not afraid, if you take everything you are, everything worthwhile in you and direct it at one goal, one ultimate mark, you’ve got to get there. ~ James Dean.

What better way to die? It’s fast and clean and you go out in a blaze of glory. ~ James Dean.


I don’t mind walking the tightrope. Something strong is holding it. ~ James Dean.

You are who you are meant to be. Dance as if no one’s watching. Love as if it’s all you know. Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today. ~ James Dean.

Dream as if you will live forever; Live as if you will die today. ~ James Dean.

Great James Dean Quotes

Being a good actor isn’t easy. Being a man is even harder. I want to be both before I’m done. ~ James Dean.


I’m not going to go through life with one arm tied behind my back. ~ James Dean.

Take it easy driving – the life you save may be mine. ~ James Dean.

Only the gentle are ever really strong. ~ James Dean.

Studying cows, pigs and chickens can help an actor develop his character. There are a lot of things I learned from animals. One was that they couldn’t hiss or boo me. ~ James Dean.

I have a fairly adequate knowledge of Satanic forces. ~ James Dean.

I don’t want anything seventy-thirty. Fifty-fifty’s always good enough for me. ~ James Dean.


Treasure is no fun if you can’t share it with your friends. ~ James Dean.

An hour or two of learning from the masters is usually enough to recharge my artistic batteries. ~ James Dean.

It’s better, really, to go out in a blaze. That’s why we love Marilyn, and James Dean. ~ James Dean.

My purpose in life does not include a hankering to charm society. ~ James Dean.

So these were the 58 top James Dean quotes and sayings.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Gwendolyn Brooks quotes and Michio Kaku quotes.

Share with others!
Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar